Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jockeying For Position

In which new stars appear and Hooker does what Hooker does

Grade insignia (yellow indicates cavalry). Volunteers
and regular army wear the same insignia
Since the secession of South Carolina seven months before military men throughout the North had been attempting to get a high-ranking position in the war. While rank was equally important to Southerners, the North already had an army, making competition for leadership slots tougher than in the South (though no more vicious). Most of these men had been junior officers during the Mexican War, and some had acquired a taste for combat that no civilian pursuit could satisfy, while others saw the leaders of the Mexican War rise to fame and fortune based on their service (two became Presidents of the United States), and still others believed in the Union fervently enough to shed their blood for it. Most were motivated by a combination of some or all of these things.

In the aftermath of the defeat at Bull Run, the opportunities for high command became greater. The influx of three-year regiments and the determination to field a larger army around Washington created a higher demand for general officers, and the passage of a law establishing a corps of U.S. Volunteers (USV) to supplement the U.S. Army (USA) also allowed Lincoln to appoint as many officers as he needed. Starting on Wednesday, July 31, the floodgates of USV promotions opened as the White House finalized its consultations with the War Department and sent a large list of nominations to the Senate.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rec'd: Horn of Plenty of Good Articles

A Harper's Weekly cartoon shortly after Manassas, mocking Horace Greeley
A great week for Civil War reading!

Ron at All Not So Quiet has a great piece on McClellan's impact on the defense of Washington.

To defend Washington, The Sound of the Guns continues with a series on artillery for McClellan's new army.

Disunion jumps the gun with a still pretty good piece on the flags of the Confederacy months before the great flag debate started.

It's also worth flagging a very sympathetic Disunion piece on Horace Greeley wildly changing his mind about "On to Richmond."

Speaking of wild, our last recommendation from this week is from John at Remembering who spots the Thornberry kids in a whole slew of contemporary photos of Manassas battleground.

The General and the Congressman's Wife

In which the score is Chestnut 1, McClellan 0

East Front of the Capitol in 1861 (AOC) The Senate
Chamber is closest to the camera.
On July 30, Major General George McClellan visited the Senate for his first time since being named commander of the Military Division of the Potomac. During that day the Senate failed to end debate and take action on a tariff bill, a bill on the "suppression of insurrection", a bill on armored ships (soon to be known by the nickname "ironclad"), and the perennial resolution approving Presidential acts before Congress came into session. They even failed to vote in favor of adjourning at the end of the day (then did so automatically when they lost a quorum).

McClellan found none of this worth noting to his wife, Ellen, but did relate that "it seems to strike everybody that I am very young."
When I was in the Senate Chamber today and found those old men flocking around me; when I afterwards stood in the library looking over the Capital [sic] of our great Nation, & saw the crowd gathering around to stare at me, I began to feel how great the task committed to me.
He left her with the closing anecdote that "I learn that before I came on they said in Richmond, that there was only one man they feared and that was McClellan."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eppa Hunton Returns to Leesburg

In which we name check Prince William, Fauquier, and Loudon

Eppa Hunton II
"We made our march to Leesburg, the citizens all along the road greeting the victorious soldiers with tumultuous joy, and welcoming their safe return to the County of Loudoun," Eppa Hunton remembered about the days following Manassas. Hunton was colonel of the 8th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which had guarded the two major Potomac River crossings near Leesburg (Edward's and Conrad's Ferries) while Charles P. Stone's Rockville Expedition was ongoing. When Irvin McDowell began his march on Washington and Stone went west to Harper's Ferry, the 8th Virginia and a South Carolina regiment that had reinforced them had scurried south to Manassas to bolster the Army of the Potomac, then under G.T. Beauregard.

At a crucial moment on Henry Hill, Hunton had thrown his regiment into the fray after deciding on it with another regiment's colonel and helped turn the tide decisively. But in the confusion it was unclear whether the result was going to be a Union retreat, or the forces were just repositioning themselves closer to Stone Bridge to try to flank. Hunton's eight company regiment would have been the only ones to defend such an attack and the colonel became very grim until it became clear the Northerners had broken and were running for Washington. Hunton wrote in his autobiography:
I had up to that time passed with my soldiers for an exceedingly pious man, but I lost my reputation as such, then and there. After I discovered that this force that I thought I would have to fight, had broken into pieces, I was extremely relieved and galloped back to my regiment, only a hundred yards off; and they said, and proved, that I proclaimed with a hearty oath that the Yankees were running like dogs. I was utterly unconscious of using an oath, but have no doubt I did. They proved it on me conclusively, and I never recovered my reputation for piety during the war.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

McClellan Comes to Town

Wherein we get to know one of the best known generals of all time

George and Ellen McClellan
Some names are associated indelibly with the Civil War in popular conception: Lincoln, Lee, Grant, Sherman, Stonewall. Each has their supporters and detractors, usually along geographic lines. But one name earns near universal scorn: McClellan. The great villain of countless Lincoln stories, fired twice for gross incompetence (not actually true, the first time he remained in charge of the Army of the Potomac but half the army was transferred to the Army of Virginia) only to reappear as the Apollo Creed presidential opponent in 1864 who wanted to throw in the towel on the war (also untrue, McClellan repudiated his party's peace platform) only to be defeated by the plucky Lincoln at the last minute.

It's hard for us today to remember that on July 27, 1861 people felt much different about the man. The New York Herald editorialized about George Brinton McClellan the following morning:
There is a charm in this name which will yet work as a talisman upon the American heart... This appointment is highly important. The man seems to have loomed up in the moment of need when he was most wanted. We did not know the best man before, but events have displayed his ability and brought him to light. It is so in all revolutionary convulsions—the best men are thrown on the surface... 

But a new era has opened upon us. We have been awakened from a dream of fancied conquest without the necessary preparation to achieve it. A man has arisen equal to the times. Like the legions of France under Napoleon, the troops of the American republic under McClellan will be invincible, and the shameful rout of Bull Run will be forgotten in the glory of his victories.
[ has this and a number of other amusingly breathless exhortations of McClellan]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Starting Anew

In which U.S. leaders decide to get back on the horse

Burnside (center) and the leadership of the 1st Rhode Island, back home
On July 25, Colonel Ambrose Burnside reluctantly formed up the 1st Rhode Island and prepared to lead them out of Washington for the last time. Because Burnside had pulled them back to Matthew's Hill to rearm rather than send them up Henry Hill, the regiment was in considerably better condition than most in the army. Burnside reported 13 killed, 39 wounded, and 39 missing. But their 90 days of Federal service had been reached, so it was back to Rhode Island, where the men would return to their homes and Colonel Burnside would again become a private citizen.

They left behind a capital trying to get back on track after the shock of their defeat on the hills overlooking Bull Run. The attempts to reconstitute the Northern war effort began immediately as the first troops stumbled through the terrible storm back to their fortified positions, but on the 25th it finally began coalescing into something like concrete changes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rec'd: Col. Burnside and Col. Corcoran on Disunion

The folks at Disunion have some of their own aftermath of the battle posts going on now, including two concerning our own dramatis personae, Ambrose Burnside and Cump Sherman. First, a story of the capture of Robert Holloway, Burnside's valet. Second, a story about Private Conant of the 11th Massachusetts (Franklin's brigade, Heintzelman's division) captured on Henry Hill, that briefly mentions Colonel Corcoran of the 69th New York Militia, part of Sherman's brigade, who Conant shared a train with in traveling from Manassas Junction to Richmond and prison.

Rec'd: Mary Chestnut On the Battle's Fallout

Because for every soldier we read about there are dozens of loved ones behind at home, it's worth remembering the human cost of the war. It wouldn't be right to commemorate the further zany adventures of Professor Lowe while omitting the impact of loss on the battle. Mary Chestnut, unsurprisingly, eloquently gets at the heart of the confused human response to the battle in her entries for the week, though her location is outside of the scope of this blog.

Dual homecomings provide the running theme. One is her James, returned home alive, but agitated, still processing what it all means while dealing with a public hungry for details. The other is Francis Bartow, dead on the field of battle, and back in Richmond for a military funeral.

They are on page 105-109:

Thaddeus Lowe's Excellent Adventure

In which a balloonist convinces the President by nearly getting himself killed

Colonel W. Tecumseh Sherman was dispirited on the morning of July 24 as the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment marched away from Fort Corcoran to join a new commander. But he had another guest at Fort Corcoran he was ecstatic to see go.

T.S.C. Lowe, by Matthew Brady
Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe had taken up residence at 8:00 pm on July 22, drenched by the pouring rain, with his balloon in tow. Lowe had been cut out of McDowell's advance on Manassas Junction by a staffer who ordered him to let a competitor fill his balloon first. But the competitor's balloon had town on the trees on the Warrenton Turnpike near Centreville, and became useless for assisting with the battle.

Lowe attempted to bring his own balloon to Manassas, even though it was late in the day, but by the time he reached Fairfax Court House, McDowell's army was streaming past him. It was too dark to see further, and the next morning the storm started, so he reluctantly packed up to return to the capital, making it to Fort Corcoran before seeking shelter.

But at 5:30 am on July 24, he was ready to try again, acting on a rumor that the Confederates were marching on Washington to seize the capital. If he could bring back proof either way, it would be the boost he needed to get a lucrative government contract for aerial surveillance. Lowe's account from his memoirs:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In the Camps of the Defeated

In which Sherman tells a lie and our blogger returns to his post.

A quick note before beginning: after over 10,000 words written from July 18 to July 21 a few days off were necessary. But no days off occurred for our historical neighbors. While Living in the Past was off: in Manassas, Joe Johnston resumed command of the combined force and arranged for burial of the dead and feeding of the living, both equally challenging. Throughout Northern Virginia, Confederate brigades fanned out again to seize strategic points, and Johnston and Beauregard began a debate on the next proper course of action. In Washington, Abraham Lincoln resisted the urgings of Winfield Scott to send his family away from Washington until the city could be secured. Before McDowell even returned to Arlington House, Scott had sacked Robert Patterson and ordered George McClellan to leave his army with his second-in-command and come to Washington. The ends of battles are never as neat as the restrictions of publishing demand.


At Fort Corcoran in Rosslyn, Cump Sherman's brigade was reeling from the battle. The 69th New York had lost 192 men killed, wounded, or captured (collectively referred to as "casualties", that number of men lost for further operations), including the fort's namesake, Colonel Corcoran who now sat in a Confederate jail, and his second-in-command, shot dead by a Louisiana Tiger shortly after the regiment forded Bull Run. The 79th New York lost 198, including Colonel James Cameron, the Secretary of War's brother, who was killed on Henry Hill. The 2nd Wisconsin had 115 casualties and the 13th New York had a relatively light 58 casualties. It all added up to 564 men out of Sherman's 3,400, or 16.6 percent casualties (by comparison, Americans landing at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 suffered 10 percent casualties, though with a much higher percentage confirmed killed or wounded).

Thursday, July 21, 2011



The Victors
Porter Alexander rode the battlefield that he had only seen from a distance.
Across the Pike I noticed a well marked row of the enemy’s dead showing where a regiment had fought. I noticed on their accoutrements that they were the 2nd Vermont. As I rode by one of the “Louisiana Tigers” of Wheat’s battalion was going from man to man stooping over each one. He had doubtless caught on to the fact that dead men’s pockets sometimes had money, watches, & other valuables in them, but he had the decency to pretend that he was searching their cap boxes for caps as I came near him. I knew he was lying, but I said nothing.
Afterwards, he was asked to guide Johnston back to Manassas Junction for the evening, but was quickly joined by Beauregard and Davis.

They returned to the army headquarters and feasted on whatever leftovers they could find. The President was ecstatic at their victory and hoped to follow up with a march on Washington the next day (which would be impossible with heavy rain the next day and the Union army still in Martinsburg). Johnston good-naturedly gave Beauregard complete credit for the victory, and Davis sat down at the kitchen table and wrote out a commission for the Cajun to full general, the only recorded instance of a battlefield promotion in the American Civil War.

The Vanquished
Fry summarized his commanding officer and their army:
McDowell in person reached Centreville before sunset, and found there Miles’s division with Richardson’s brigade and 3 regiments of Runyon’s division, and Hunt’s, Tidball’s, Ayres’s, and Greene’s batteries and 1 or 2 fragments of batteries, making about 20 guns. It was a formidable force, but there was a lack of food and the mass of the army was completely demoralized… McDowell consulted the division and brigade commanders who were at hand upon the question of making a stand or retreating. The verdict was in favor of the latter, but a decision of officers one way or the other was of no moment; the men had already decided for themselves and were streaming away to the rear, in spite of all that could be done. They had no interest or treasure in Centreville, and their hearts were not there. Their tents, provisions, baggage, and letters from home were upon the banks of the Potomac, and no power could have stopped them short of the camps they had left less than a week before.
McDowell spent the night in Fairfax Court House, sending telegram accounts to Winfield Scott, who tried to reinstall hope in the army by bravely saying “We are not discouraged.”
McDowell was so tired that while sitting on the ground writing a dispatch he fell asleep, pencil in hand, in the middle of a sentence. His adjutant-general [Fry himself] aroused him; the dispatch was finished, and the weary ride to the Potomac resumed. When the unfortunate commander dismounted at Arlington next forenoon in a soaking rain, after 32 hours in the saddle, his disastrous campaign of 6 days was closed.
  Hope everyone enjoyed.

5:30 pm: Attempt to bag up the Union from Blackburn Ford

Blackburn Ford
The final action of the battle took place where it began July 18, with Longstreet at Blackburn Ford. As he and Bonham prepared to attack Richardson outside of Centreville and cut off a third of what had been McDowell’s army, a report came that a massive Union attack was about to be unleashed at Union Mills Ford.
I denounced the report as absurd, claimed to know a retreat, such as was before me, and ordered that the batteries open fire, when Major Whiting of General Johnston’s staff, raising in his stirrups said, “In the name of General Johnston I order that the batteries shall not open.”
Furiously, Longstreet confronted Whiting, demanding to know if the order was directly from Johnston, and when he found it wasn’t, refusing to obey. Bonham rode up and took Whiting’s side, ending the matter as Longstreet’s superior officer. But he let Longstreet stay in position, even while returning his own brigade to Bull Run. Longstreet’s hopes were not realized and at 10:00 pm, when it was fully dark, he gave up.

Key to People and Sources

5:00 pm: Bridge down on Cub Run, mass panic

Blackburn Ford
The offensive against Richardson was resumed, this time with only Longstreet and Bonham. Richardson offered no resistance, following the army wide order to retreat. Longstreet sent word back to Johnston to send them reinforcements as fast as he could, so they could reach Centreville before the bulk of McDowell’s army and capture them.

Sudley Ford
One of or both of Porter and Burnside commanded the last troops over Sudley Ford, trying to stave off J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry. It’s widely agreed that the last unit over the ford was the battalion of regulars from Porter’s brigade, but both commanders claimed to have been leading them.

Regardless, the real delay for Stuart was the huge number of prisoners he had captured that bogged down his cavalry.

Warrenton Turnpike
With all his concern for clearing the bridge, Bayard had not made plans to blow it up to stop the Confederate pursuit. Porter Alexander witnessed the chaos as Northern soldiers, officers, and VIP civilians mixed together in flight.
As I got near the head of the rear regiment I saw a very fine looking sergeant major come out of the woods on the left with a small man in citizen’s dress & take him before the colonel at the head of the regiment… as I approached… he had drawn his revolver and was trying to shoot the little citizen who was dodging behind the big sergeant major as… [the colonel was] swearing with a fluency that would have been creditable to a wagon master. “You s. of a b.! [sic] You came to see the fun did you? God damn your dirty soul! I’ll show you.”
Alexander stepped in and reminded the colonel of Beauregard’s orders not to shoot prisoner, to which the irate man replied that his prisoner was a member of Congress, come to watch the battle. The crisis was averted only when the colonel gave up his prey to Alexander upon learning that there might be a senator nearby.

Fry later insisted that the retreat had not been disorganized up to that point:
There was no panic, in the ordinary meaning of the word, until the retiring soldiers, guns, wagons, congressmen, and carriages were fired upon, on the road east of Bull Run. Then the panic began, and the bridge over Cub Run being rendered impassable for vehicles by a wagon that was upset upon it, utter confusion set in: pleasure-carriages, gun-carriages, and ammunition wagons which could not be put across the Run were abandoned and blocked the way, and stragglers broke and threw aside their muskets and cut horses from then- harness and rode off upon them.
Key to People and Sources

4:30 pm: The retreat begins

Henry Hill
Watching from Matthew’s Hill, Fry recorded,
Until then they had fought wonderfully well for raw troops. There were no fresh forces on the field to support or encourage them, and the men seemed to be seized simultaneously by the conviction that it was no use to do anything more and they might as well start home. Cohesion was lost, the organizations with some exceptions being disintegrated, and the men quietly walked off. There was no special excitement except that arising from the frantic efforts of officers to stop men who paid little or no attention to anything that was said. On the high ground by the Matthews house, about where Evans had taken position in the morning to check Burnside, McDowell and his staff, aided by other officers, made a desperate but futile effort to arrest the masses and form them into line. There, I went to Arnold’s battery as it came by, and advised that he unlimber and make a stand as a rallying-point, which he did, saying he was in fair condition and ready to fight as long as there was any fighting to be done. But all efforts failed. The stragglers moved past the guns, in spite of all that could be done, and, as stated in his report, Arnold at my direction joined Sykes’s battalion of infantry of Porter’s brigade and Palmer’s battalion of cavalry, all of the regular army, to cover the rear, as the men trooped back in great disorder across Bull Run.
Burnside rode forward to find the 2nd New Hampshire. In Fiske’s account, he encouraged them to hurry up, lest they be surrounded by surging Confederates, but the regiment refused to run. In Burnside’s he found them cowering and clueless about imminent capture and rescued them. Both claimed that about half the brigade reformed on Matthew’s Hill and asked McDowell to keep fighting, but were denied.

Henry Hill
Flush with victory, Beauregard was coordinating the chase of fleeing Union soldiers when he was interrupted with news of a surprising guest. Jefferson Davis had ridden the train from Richmond as soon as he received first reports. He was shocked when he rode from Manassas Junction, assuming a terrible defeat because of the huge number of Confederates fleeing the battlefield.

Blackburn Ford
Both armies seemed to have lost their stomach and called off the impending clash at the Ford.

Key to People and Places

3:00 PM: The finale on Henry Hill

Henry Hill
McDowell had one final card to play, the fresh brigade of Oliver Otis Howard, which he had ordered to quick-march along the same path that Burnside and the others had followed that morning. But it would not be enough. Johnston’s work reinforcing was finally paying off, as the brigades of Early and Kirby Smith arrived on the battlefield and extended the Confederate line across Sudley Road and around the Union flank.

At the base of Henry Hill, near the intersection of the Sudley Road and the Warrenton Turnpike, Sherman was doing his best to try to lead whatever men he could find. At about 3:30, he wrote,
…began the scene of confusion and disorder that characterized the rest of the day. Up to that time all [in his brigade] had seemed perfectly cool, and used to the shell and shot that fell, comparatively harmless, around us…[but then] men fell away from their ranks, talking, and in great confusion.
Blackburn Ford 

Miles, receiving Fry’s message, did not send a brigade to Stone Bridge, but did order Richardson to move down from his hill to threaten Blackburn Ford. But at the same time, Johnston had ordered Longstreet, Ewell, and the brigade of Jones across Bull Run to threaten Richardson’s position.

Key People and Sources

2:00 pm: The struggle continues on Henry Hill

Henry Hill

The West Point Battery was tearing up the Confederate line when the most infamous case of mistaken battlefield identity in the battle occurred. The 33rd Virginia, from Jackson’s brigade, emerged from the woods to their left and began marching towards the battery. One of Griffin’s guns pivoted to take aim, but McDowell’s chief of artillery ran to them and stopped them. They wore blue uniforms (the traditional Virginia militia color), he said, and they must be the extra infantry guard Griffin had been requesting.

The 33rd Virginia opened fire at point blank range on the battery. Griffin wrote: “In this charge of the enemy every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support except in name) perfectly helpless.” Nearby, the other advanced battery, led James Ricketts, was experiencing a similar catastrophe. Two companies of cavalry led by Colonel J.E.B. Stuart charged the 11th New York (the Fire Zouaves) and scattered them, then fell on the battery at the same time as the 33rd Virginia, repeating the massacre of Griffin’s guns. Ricketts was wounded three times and would be captured.

The fight for the hill turned into a well-dressed riot, with the multitude of uniforms swirling back and forth with little to no clear direction. The most intense fight was over the guns of Ricketts and Griffin, which neither side could quite hold and changed hands at least three times. McDowell, Beauregard, and countless other generals were swept up in it, unable to do more than command small handfuls of men.

Matthew’s Hill
Near the Warrenton Turnpike the 2nd New Hampshire took up their position.
While we were halting a moment, one of the men offered me some water from his canteen, which he had just filled at a pool nearby. Upon my declining it, he raised his canteen to his own lips, throwing his head back, when a cannonball nearly severed his head from his body. Such a sight at home would have made me sick and faint with horror; but now… my principal feeling was astonishment that a cannonball could make such a clean, knifelike cut, so quickly does one adjust one’s self to one’s environment.
At top of Matthew’s Hill, Fry and Barnard saw Griffin’s guns fall. Fry wrote: “As the battle seemd to me to be going against us, and not knowing where McDowell was, with the concurrence of Barnard... I immediately sent a note to [reserve commander] Miles, telling him to move two brigades of his reserve up to Stone Bridge…

1:00 pm: The struggle for Henry Hill

Programming note: Over the next three hours things become very confusing in the mayhem on top of Henry Hill. Specific times for events vary wildly as does the sequence. I’ll post on the hour rather than half hour and in a slightly different style than the narrative so far.
Blackburn Ford
Longstreet’s staffers completed their reconnaissance of the batteries of Richardson that were still intermittently raining down shot on them. Unaware of the details of the action on Henry Hill, Longstreet recommended attacking them and beginning the attack on Centreville.

Johnston pulled reinforcements from every corner of the battlefield. Early’s brigade had spent the morning marching from one point to another in the vacillations of Beauregard about his Centreville plan, meaning they had no specific position to defend. At Mitchell’s Ford, Bonham was asked to send two regiments, and Cocke had to give up another battalion of men. And, in a stroke of luck, he received word that his final brigade had just arrived by train at Manassas Junction. Johnston wastes no time and orders them to march immediately sown the Sudley Road to Henry Hill.

Matthew’s Hill
James Fry had been sent by McDowell back from Henry Hill to again urge Tyler to hurry up and deploy his third brigade, which was still on the other side of Bull Run unknown to just about everyone. Now Fry could not find McDowell and so fell back to near the Warrenton Turnpike, where Chief Engineer Bayard was concerned about the Stone Bridge. The regiments of the 8th South Carolina had fallen back from it, but it was entirely undefended and still covered by abatis, tree branches stacked close together to make it difficult to move. He was trying to find some specialized soldiers called pioneers that still had their axes to clear the way.

While Burnside’s brigade watched from Matthew’s Hill, the 2nd New Hampshire (as the closest regiment on hand) was asked for to fill a hole of a regiment that had collapsed.
Just as we were about to start, Colonel Marston came up mounted, with his shoulder bandaged, and said, “Now we New Hampshire boys will have a chance to show what stuff we are made of.” He was received with cheers, and accompanied us until repeated entreaties not to take the risk of aggravating his wound induced him to return; but he left the inspiration of his presence with us.
Henry Hill
Charles Griffin had been ordered by Heintzelman to move his battery of cannons to a place where they could tear apart the Confederate line based on Jackson. Along with another of Heintzelman’s batteries, the West Point artillery drug their guns down Sudley Road and set themselves up at roughly a 90 degree angle from the Confederates and no more than 200 yards distance. They opened fire at point blank range with devastating effect. Heintzelman and two regiments of infantry went with them.

At some point during this hour, Mrs. Judith Henry, an elderly widow living in a house on top of the hill that bore her name was killed by artillery fire. She was bed-ridden and very unwell and refused to leave her home as soldiers approached. Her daughter and a slave hid themselves in the fire place and lived.

Key to People and Places

12:30 pm: Reinforcing Henry Hill and the assault on Henry Hill

Matthew’s Hill
McDowell assumed Tyler had crossed the First Division at Stone Bridge, but couldn’t understand why he wasn’t making progress moving the Union line up Bull Run so that Henry Hill would be surrounded on three times. The answer, of course, was that Tyler had not crossed his whole division, only two of his three brigades, and the third was fruitlessly trying to find a down river ford that it could cross. And Tyler himself had quickly followed Sherman to the action and was now caught up in the scrum at the foot of Henry Hill.

Unaware of this McDowell sent a staffer to hurry Tyler up, then spurred his own horse to join Heintzelman down Sudley Road.

Henry Hill
Heintzelman’s division had been surprised, but was not discouraged and they were getting ready on the other side of Sudley Road to attack again.

Beauregard turned to Johnston and made a startling request – to leave the battlefield. After a hasty conversation, though, Johnston reluctantly agreed. Beauregard argued that the senior commander needed to arrange reinforcements and keep a battlefield-wide vision, while the junior could limit his focus to a specific sector.

Johnston first road to the closest brigade, that of Philip St. George Cocke. But Tyler’s negligence had unintentionally made it impossible for Cocke to go to Henry Hill without opening up the fords for the missing Northern brigade to cross. Johnston took a regiment, Eppa Hunton’s 8th Virginia, and directed it to Henry Hill, then took his staff to a nearby farmhouse called Portici to set up a headquarters.

Key to People and Places

Noon: 2nd Div (US) pursues Confederates, meets a Stone Wall

Matthew’s Hill
With the Confederates pushed back over the Warrenton Turnpike, and Heintzelman’s Third Division chasing them and two brigades of Tyler’s First Division joining them, it seemed unlikely that Hampton’s Legion could hold out long. McDowell had stationed himself on Matthew’s Hill, watching and directing the action with his chief of staff, James Fry. In short order, they were met by Colonel Cump Sherman from the First Division, asking where his brigade might be of most use (McDowell sent him against Hampton’s Legion), and Colonel Ambrose Burnside asking to pull his men out of the battle to rearm and rest, since (he smugly noted) they had done the bulk of the fighting in the victory (Fry said: “McDowell, in the excitement of the occasion, gave reluctant assent…”).

Burnside’s men backed away from the confusion, replaced by some of Porter’s brigade and some of Sherman’s brigade, and walked up Matthew’s Hill to behind the artillery pounding away at Henry Hill where they waited for more ammunition to be brought to them. Fiske, now in command of the 2nd New Hampshire with his colonel wounded, wrote:

A cheer came from away off to the right, and was taken up by us and rolled along to the extreme left. McDowell rode down our front announcing that we had won a glorious victory. One of our men near me said, pointing to some columns of dust over the trees to the south of us and moving toward us, “It seems to me, Colonel, that if we have whipped them, that dust ought to be moving the other way…”

McDowell ordered Heintzelman to aggressively position his Third Division along the Sudley Road south of the Warrenton Turnpike, which would be full of men from Porter’s brigade and Tyler’s division to form a massive L that would push the Confederate army in on itself until it collapsed.

Henry Hill
Johnston and Beauregard arrived to a scene of chaos on Henry Hill. The brigades of Bee, Bartow, and Evans were no more than an armed mob, their commanding officers abandoning all pretenses to structure and gathering knots of men to lead on charges. Hampton’s legion was now surrounded on three sides and as they watched began to crumble. At some point over the next hour Bartow would be dead, but the situation was too chaotic to identify when.

It was a desperate situation and a dramatic legend was born of it. As with all legends, there are multiple versions and few verifiable facts. At some point in the mayhem, Barnard Bee compared the unmoving line of Colonel Thomas Jackson to a stone wall. In some accounts, when all seems lost he cries out “Look boys, there stands Jackson like a stone wall. Rally around the Virginians!” In others, he is cursing the general who rather than come to the aid of his men is “standing there like a bloody stone wall.” And it’s also possible that Bee never said anything at all about stone walls. In the following hour he would be shot through the abdomen and over 24 hours slowly and painfully bleed to death in a Confederate hospital before the story would begin to be told.

But what Beauregard and Johnston saw was enough to make the legend credible. The colonel in the dingy blue VMI uniform had his men standing stock still while the wave of Northerners rushed towards them, holding their fire until they couldn’t miss and stunning the advancing army. Beauregard quickly had the remainder of Hampton’s Legion fall in beside Jackson’s brigade and then he and Johnston rode their horses around fleeing men, pushing them back into a battle line on the far end of Henry Hill.

Key People and Sources

11:30 am: Confederates retreat from Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
James Fry, McDowell’s chief of staff, received a message that had been telegraphed to Centreville from Winfield Scott. It warned that Robert Patterson had been duped and was all alone near Martinsburg and that Johnston may soon be joining Beauregard at Manassas (the column of dust that Johnston had thought was Patterson would turn out to be his own baggage train). It would still be a little while longer before prisoners could confirm for Fry that Johnston was already there.

The entire Second Division was now in battle and it was beginning to make a difference. McDowell sensed that Evans, Bee, and Bartow couldn’t last much longer and told the two brigades of the Third Division, crossing Sudley Ford, to hurry. One of their regiments fell into line to the left of Burnside’s brigade and was surprised to find the 69th New York from Sherman’s brigade on the west side of Bull Run.

The Confederate position on Matthew’s Hill collapsed. With little to no organization the men fell back to the Warrenton Turnpike and on to Henry Hill, some fighting in little groups, some throwing aside their muskets and running. The Union men surged after them, down Matthew’s Hill until well-aimed artillery fire from the mixed Confederate regiment known as Hampton’s Legion from the Robinson House near the base of Henry Hill made them pause.

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11:00 am: Col Evans (CS) reinforced on Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
Shanks Evans finally won a battle within the battle he had been waging. On top of Henry Hill, Barnard Bee had been insisting Evans fall back to his position, while Evans had been insisting that Bee bring his and part of Bartow’s brigade to Matthew’s Hill to drive the Union men back to Sudley Ford before more of them arrived.

Bee had been partially convinced because the rest of Bartow’s brigade, a mixed-arms regiment called Hampton’s Legion, and the beginning of Jackson’s brigade were finally arriving at Henry Hill. But he had also been persuaded when it became clear that Burnside had finally gotten his brigade together, with all four regiments now in line and punishing Evans’ small command.

Bee brought his men down just as the Tigers made a daring gambit. Evans wrote: “The fire was warmly kept up until the enemy seemed to fall back. Major Wheat [the Tigers’ commander] then made a charge with his whole battalion.” It was a cover-up for a foolish attack that gave Burnside the upper hand. Wheat was shot through both lungs (he would live, amazingly) and a huge number of his Tigers were knocked out of the battle.

As the new Confederates rushed into battle so did new Union men. Porter’s 27th New York fell into line to the right of Burnside’s 71st New York, extending the line to the south, parallel to Sudley Road. In front of them the gray uniformed 8th New York came hurrying to join up in their line – except it wasn’t the 8th New York. In a mistake that would famously be repeated over and over they were Confederates and they opened fire on the stunned New Yorkers.

Johnston recorded in his official report:
…I waited with General Beauregard near the center the full development of the enemy’s designs. About 11 o’clock the violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, and the march of a large body of troops from the enemy’s center towards the conflict was shown by clouds of dust. I was thus convinced that his great effort was to be made with his right. I stated that conviction to General Beauregard, and the absolute necessity of immediately strengthening our left as much as possible
After the war Johnston would describe his words urging Beauregard to take the attack on the left seriously more bluntly: “The battle is there. I am going.” A startled Beauregard scrambled to issue orders to reinforce Henry Hill and follow Johnston there.

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10:30 am: BG Beauregard (CS) makes a decision

Beauregard and Johnston were handed another disturbing message from Porter Alexander. To the west he had seen a large dust cloud, like one thrown up by a column of troops. Johnston’s army hadn’t all arrived, but most were coming by train. But it also could be the army of Maj. General Robert Patterson, duped by Johnston in Winchester. It wouldn’t arrive fast enough to decide the current battle, but if the Confederates successfully defeated McDowell at Centreville, they would find themselves between two armies.

The arrival of Dick Ewell at headquarters further exacerbated the issue. Most of his brigade had crossed Bull Run and he was waiting for the promised further orders to begin the attack on Centreville. Beauregard waffled as Johnston became more disturbed. Finally, the Louisianan decided to delay the attack and recall the brigades north of the river.

Writing in 1863, Beauregard described his situation:
I thus had suddenly or on the spur of the moment to change my whole plan of battle, with troops which had never yet fought and could scarcely maneuver. My heart for a moment failed me!... But I soon rallied, and I then solemnly pledged my life that I would that day conquer or die!
Matthew’s Hill
While Beauregard vacillated, the fight was thickening to the north. While the 2nd New Hampshire bumbled (made worse when Colonel Marston was shot in the shoulder and had to be carried off on a stretcher), Burnside hurried forward his own 1st Rhode Island Militia to support their sister regiment, which was wavering. In short order Colonel Slocum was hit by musketballs in his ankle and skull, and a cannonball smashed his leg. His men did not have time to remove him from the field the fighting was becoming so desperate and if the damage to his brain did not kill him outright, then he shortly bled to death.

Burnside rode to the other brigade commander, Andrew Porter, and begged him for the use of his battalion of regular U.S. Army soldiers. Porter agreed and Burnside rode up and down their column, urging them to jog briskly down Sudley Road to keep the Rhode Island men from being overwhelmed.

Stone Bridge
Daniel Tyler decided not to cross the First Division over Stone Bridge after all. He could hear the firing of the fight on Matthew’s Hill, but still believed there was probably a large number of Confederates in front of him, and after being chastised so severely for the fight at Blackburn Ford on July 18, was not about to charge the bridge head on. Instead he sent Schenck down river to look for a ford (he would find none, Cocke had them all guarded) and Sherman upriver to look for one. He had just the spot in mind already.
Early in the day, when reconnoitering the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a bluff in our front, cross the stream, and show himself in the open field, and, inferring we could cross over at the same point, I sent forward a company as skirmishers, and followed with the whole brigade, the New York Sixty-ninth leading. We found no difficulty in crossing over, and met no opposition in ascending the steep bluff opposite with our infantry, but it was impassable to the artillery… Captain Ayers [therefore] did not cross Bull Run, but remained with the remainder of your division.
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10:00 am: Battling on Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
The 2nd Rhode Island had calmed down a bit and driven the Tigers back down to the bottom of Matthew’s Hill. With six guns now set up at the top of the hill, they were beginning to make progress in answering Evans’ two guns, and the four guns being set up now by Bee on Henry Hill. Burnside had ridden to the front and ordered the 71st New York and the 2nd New Hampshire from his brigade to set up on a ridge to the west of Sudley Road, while he hurried his own 1st Rhode Island and the other brigade from the Second Division forward to flank Evans. He hoped to extend the battle line in such a way that Evans would be forced to put his back to Bull Run, the optimal position for when the First Division of Daniel Tyler charged across Stone Bridge.

But the order proved beyond the capabilities of the inexperienced officers and men of the 2nd New Hampshire, who hadn’t had the nearly three months of experience the 71st New York had. “The movement to our position was a mistake,” Fiske admitted, “Caused by the confusion of staff officers of different generals, whom we were unable to distinguish, and who had not had time to learn to distinguish regiments of different brigades.” He continued:
On our way, two companies, by the mistake of another aide not on the staff of our brigade, were separated from the regiment, and it was only be the active exertions of our own officers that we were brought back again… We passed some caissons [storage lockers for cannons]; just before we reached them a cannon shot off a hind leg of each of the two wheel horses. I had already seen men wounded and killed, but no such pitiful sight to me as that of those poor horses.
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9:30 am: First volleys on Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
Col. John Slocum led the 2nd Rhode Island down the Sudley Road [VA 234]. It was stretched out in its full battle line, with a company of skirmishers spread out about a hundred yards in front of it to avoid any surprises. Behind it was a batter of artillery, looking for a good place to unlimber (set up to fire). At his side rode Col. David Hunter, commander of the Second Division. Closer to the ford, Burnside tried to hurry the rest of the brigade across the ford and into position.

The 2nd Rhode Island’s skirmishers reached the crest of Matthew’s Hill and all hell broke loose. A volley of musket fire from the Louisiana Tigers and the 4th South Carolina shot tore the air beside them. Slocum hurriedly ordered the rest of the regiment to the crest of the hill where it could fire down on the Confederates and move the artillery where it could back up the infantry.

Hunter was hit by a musket ball and was evacuated back to Sudley Ford. He told Burnside as he left to take command.

Key to People and Sources:

9:00 am: 2nd Div (US) attack begins from Sudley Ford

Stone Bridge
Shortly before 9:00 am, a horseman thundered up to Evans’ headquarters at top speed. According to some accounts the general was already beginning his strange habit of distributing whiskey to men who were hurt or needed some courage (and to himself) from a barrel on the back of one of his aides. The horseman was from one of Evans’ two companies of cavalry that he had stretched all the way to Sudley Ford to warn him of anyone was coming that way. He reported that the cavalry had been chased off by Union cavalry, a sign that someone was coming that direction.

At that moment a note was handed to him from the Stone Bridge signal station. It was the message from Alexander. “Look out for your left. You are flanked.” Evans dashed off a quick note to Cocke that he was leaving only a few companies of the 4th South Carolina as a distraction at Stone Bridge and hurried the rest of the regiment and the Tigers three-quarters of a mile west towards a ravine next to Buck Hill, just north of the Warrenton Turnpike. He sent another message to Bee, just arriving at Henry Hill, that he needed reinforcements immediately.

Sudley Ford
Burnside’s lead regiments collapsed in gratitude for a quick break when they reached Sudley Ford. While Burnside ate a quick bite of food, the Second Division’s commander, David Hunter, chatted to him about their plan. Only the 2nd Rhode Island had fully arrived, two hours late and exhausted. Burnside encouraged them to begin crossing so as not to hold up the line.

They were interrupted by a furious McDowell, who had ridden to the front of the line personally to see what was occurring.
On reaching the ford at Sudley Springs, I found part of the leading brigade of Hunter’s division (Burnside’s) had crossed, but the men were slow in getting over, stopping to drink. As at this time the clouds of dust from the direction of Manassas indicated the immediate approach of a large force [Bee and Bartow], and fearing it might come down on the head of the column before the division could all get over and sustain it, orders were sent back to the heads of the regiments to break from the column, and come forward separately as fast as possible.
Rather than march down the road, McDowell was ordering the men to form up for battle and expect to cross the ford in a fight. His chief of staff, Bvt. Captain James Fry, described McDowell’s arrival at Sudley Ford differently:
He gazed silently and with evident pride upon the gay regiments as they filed briskly but quietly past in the freshness of the early morning, and then, remarking to his staff, “Gentlemen, that is a big force,” he mounted and moved forward to the field by way of Sudley Springs.
Whether either or both accounts actually occurred, the decision to prepare for battle was made. One of the aides sent riding at top speed by the order approached Lt. Colonel Fiske of the 2nd New Hampshire further down the farm path. “An officer from the front came galloping back and asked for Colonel Marston. ‘Tell him to have his men ready, for we shall soon meet the enemy in large force,’ he shouted, and continued on his way to other regiments.”

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8:30 am: Alexander spots the flanking column

Wilcoxen Hill
Porter Alexander had spent the morning so far exchanging wig-wag messages with the other observation stations. He had handpicked each station’s location, so that from his he could see all of them, had trained each man in the use of using the flags to send messages, and written the codes they would be using to communicate what they could see. Given the activity at Stone Bridge, he was spending most of his time training his spyglass in that direction.
While looking at them…[at] 8:30 am suddenly a little flash of light in the same field of view, but far beyond them [the station] caught my eye. I was looking to the west and the sun was low in the east, & this flash was the reflection from the brass of a cannon… It was about 8 miles from me in an air line & was but a feint gleam, indescribably quick, but I had a fine glass & well trained eyes, & I knew at once what it was. And careful observation also detected the glitter of bayonets all along a road crossing a valley…
Alexander sent a signal to Evans via the Stone Bridge station and sent a runner off with a note to Beauregard.

Key to People and Sources:

8:00 am: US offensive delayed

Stone Bridge

While Long Tom and the rest of the artillery pounded the Confederates at Stone Bridge, Schenck worked his brigade closer to their position for an attack, little-by-little. They slowly crept into a hollow that runs parallel to the Warrenton Turnpike. It was protected from the Confederate artillery that Evans had placed so it could fire straight down the length of the bridge, annihilating anyone crossing it, and the Confederate artillery of Colonel Cocke which was firing down on Tyler’s division from the hills above the bridge.

Farm Path to Sudley Ford
Somebody had made a serious mistake. The path had been considerably longer than six miles (it would end up over 12) and Burnside’s brigade should have crossed Sudley Ford an hour ago. They had emerged from the woods into a clear plain and the sun was beginning to make the men hot.

Key to People and Sources

7:30 am: Longstreet scouts towards Centreville

North of Blackburn’s Ford

Longstreet received orders to call off the attack on Richardson’s batteries and return to Blackburn Ford after it was discovered that “the enemy was moving in heavy columns towards our left [meaning Stone Bridge], the position that the general had always supposed he would take.” Then Colonels Terry and Lubbock, two of Longstreet’s staff officers, volunteered to get as close to Richardson’s batteries as possible for a reconnaissance. “They made a very gallant and complete one, and a hasty sketch of the entire [Union] left. This information was forwarded to the commanding general [Beauregard], with the suggestion that the batteries be taken.”

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7:00 am: Borey reinforces the left


Back at his headquarters from Mitchell’s Ford, Beauregard decided to send the brigade of Bernard Bee and part of the one of Francis Bartow to Henry Hill, in order to back up his left flank in case the attack on Evans turned out to be more serious than he thought.

The Farm Path to Sudley Ford

Burnside’s men continued to march down the farm path, following the plan to make the attack on Stone Bridge more serious. But at this point it had become obvious that a major mistake had been made. The path had narrowed to barely a trail, making the movement of artillery difficult.

With sounds of battle now drifting from Stone Bridge, Lt. Colonel Fiske remembered that in the 2nd New Hampshire “men ceased speaking and without orders closed their ranks, and only the sullen rumble of the artillery wheels was to be heard; the influence of our peaceful surroundings was gone, and men were reminded that the time which was to test their manhood had come.”

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6:30 am: 1st Div (US) attack on Stone Bridge begins

Stone Bridge
Tyler’s artillery, including Long Tom, opened fire on the Confederates in Evans’ small command guarding the Stone Bridge. The officer in charge of the massive 30-pounder Parrott remembered training his big gun on a “house across Bull Run at about a mile and a half range” hoping it was a headquarters. It was a signaling station set up by Porter Alexander, in fact, to relay observations from one end of the army to the other with wig-wag signals. “The shot went through the tent, but hurt nobody,” Alexander wrote.

On the Confederate side of Bull Run, Evans sent the battalion of Louisianans – na’er-do-wells from the docks who called themselves the “Tigers” – to join Sloan’s South Carolinians guarding upriver from the bridge.

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6:00 am: 1st Div (US) arrives at Stone Bridge; Longstreet prepares CSA assault

Stone Bridge
Tyler’s infantry arrived in position, significantly late. He deployed Schenck’s brigade to the south of the Warrenton Turnpike, about 1,000 yards from Stone Bridge, and Sherman’s brigade to the north of Warrenton Turnpike. Then he began setting up his artillery, including Long Tom. On the opposite bank of Bull Run, Evans’ men were rapidly getting themselves ready to fight.

Blackburn Ford

Richardson was firing intermittent shots from Butler House down onto Mitchell and Blackburn’s Fords. In preparation for silencing his artillery and beginning the assault on Centreville, Longstreet crossed his brigade over Bull Run.

Strong bodies of skirmishers were thrown out in front of each column, with orders to lead in the assault, and at the same time to keep up a sharp fire, so as to confuse as much as possible the fire of the enemy, and thereby protect the columns, which were not to fire again before the batteries were ours… Arrangements being complete, the troops were ordered to lie down and cover themselves from the artillery fire as much as possible.

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5:30 am: 2nd Div (US) turns off the Turnpike for Sudley Springs Ford

Farm Path to Sudley Ford
Burnside’s men crossed Cub Run and turned off the Warrenton Turnpike onto a farm road. The remaining troops in line would follow them on their 6 mile detour to cross at Sudley Ford.

Fiske remembered walking with the 2nd New Hampshire pleasantly:
I wish I could adequately describe the loveliness of this summer Sabbath morning. In the midst of war we were in peace. There was not a cloud in the sky; a gentle breeze rustled the foliage over our heads, mingling its murmurs with the soft notes of the wood-birds; the thick carpet of leaves under our feet deadened the sound of artillery wheels and the tramp of men. Everybody felt the influence of the scene, and the men, marching on their leafy path, spoke in subdued tones. A Rhode Island officer riding beside me quoted some lines from Wordsworth fitting the morning…

Beauregard decided that if McDowell wanted to be aggressive too, he would not shrink from a battle. He sent orders to Dick Ewell, whose brigade with Holmes’ would lead the attack on McDowell, to “hold yourself in readiness to take the offensive on Centreville at a moment’s notice…”

Key to People and Sources

5:00 am: US detected on Warrenton turnpike


A messenger arrived at Yorkshire where Beauregard and Johnston rested before their offensive with news from Milledge Bonham. He had confirmed reports that McDowell was moving some amount of artillery towards Stone Bridge and he had personally scouted up to the edge of the Butler House grounds and seen Union artillery setting up. Beauregard and Johnston had been eating breakfast with their staff and immediately left for Mitchell’s Ford with most of their staff. “But Beauregard ordered me to go to my high central station,” Porter Alexander recalled, “Keeping some couriers with me and reporting from time to time all I could learn of the enemy’s movements.”

Stone Bridge

Colonel J.B.E. Sloan of the 4th South Carolina had his sharpshooters east of Bull Run driven back to the regiment’s position at Stone Bridge. Alerted, their brigade commander, Colonel Nathan “Shanks” Evans, awoke his small command of Sloan’s regiment, a battalion, a battery, and two companies of cavalry.

Key to People and Sources

4:30 am: Both armies are stirring


Johnston gave his approval to Beauregard’s orders. Beauregard’s aides were told to deliver the copies they had made to each brigade headquarters. Things were beginning to happen. Longstreet had asked Jackson to send two regiments to Blackburn’s Ford for support, his soldier’s instincts telling him to be wary. Sure enough, Richardson was beginning to prepare artillery batteries at the Butler House on Centreville Road, where they had been so effective on July 18.

Warrenton Turnpike, West of Centreville

Burnside’s men were finally following Tyler’s down the Warrenton Turnpike, slowly but surely, the rest of the army behind them. In an era without daylight savings time, dawn was breaking.

Key to People and Sources

4:00 am: BG Beauregard issues orders for battle


Beauregard put the finishing touches on his battle orders and sat back satisfied. He submitted them to Johnston – his superior officer – for approval. The orders were confusing, and some outright contradictory. It also grouped the brigades into divisions on the morning of an attack, without any chance to set up systems of communication.

Three divisions would be under the command of Theophilus Holmes, perhaps because Beauregard wanted to emulate Johnston’s generosity to a subordinate. The first division would be the brigades of Ewell and Holmes that would march north from Union Mills Ford and be ready to attack Centreville or further east. The second was Jones and Early, to march from McLean’s Ford to follow the first and be ready to attack either the Centreville Road or Fairfax Station. The third was Longstreet and Thomas Jackson from Johnston’s army, to go forward parallel to the second.

The remaining two divisions and the reserves are first listed as under a second in command, and then listed as under Beauregard himself. The orders are unclear whether he viewed himself as second in command to Johnston or intended to appoint someone else to that post. The fourth was Bonham and Bartow (one of Johnston’s), to go parallel to the third from Mitchell’s Ford and have the responsibility of taking Centreville. The fifth was Cocke and Elzey (another of Johnston’s) to march from the Stone Bridge on Centreville. The sixth was two of Johnston’s brigades, Bee and Wilcox, which would be the army’s reserve.

Key to People and Sources

3:00 am: 1st Div (US) finally on the move

Sherman’s brigade was finally marching, but very slowly. They were the middle brigade in Tyler’s now three brigade division. The first was being led by Robert Schenck, so far famous for running a train full of soldiers right into an ambush at Vienna earlier in July. Tyler was also trying to move a massive 30-pounder Parrott gun called “Long Tom”, a humongous rifled cannon that was far more typical of coastal forts than of armies in the field. When hauling the gun over the rickety bridge over Cub Run, halfway between Centreville and Stone Bridge, it was a miracle that it didn’t break and prevent the rest of the army from carrying out its attack.

The First Division only had to cover three miles, but it was taking an eternity.

Key to People and Sources

2:30 am: BG Bonham (CS) hears Union Army forming up.

Mitchell's Ford
At Mitchell’s Ford on the Centreville Road [Old Centreville Road], Milledge Bonham was awoken by one his colonels. “Colonel Kirkland, field officer of the day for my command, a vigilant officer, came in from visiting his pickets beyond the run and informed me that he had heard the rumbling to my left front of artillery wagons.” Though Tyler wasn’t yet moving towards his objective, his men and the men of the other two divisions were making enough noise that the Confederate pickets could hear them. “I directed him to renew his efforts to ascertain its character…”

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2:00 am: Army of NE Va (US) delayed at Centreville

Warrenton Turnpike, East of Centreville

Burnside’s brigade was formed up and waiting in the dark on the Warrenton Turnpike [VA 29] outside Centreville. The Second Division commander, Colonel David Hunter, was waiting with him near the front of the men.

Behind the brigade, was the other Second Division brigade, under Colonel Andrew Porter, lead by the West Point Artillery under Captain Charles Griffin. Two of the guns from the battery had helped Colonel Charles P. Stone drench a Confederate officer in the Potomac during the Rockville Expedition. Today would be much more difficult.

Behind Porter’s brigade was the Third Division, under Colonel Sam Heintzelman, McDowell’s other trusted subordinate. They were three brigades strong, their last one still sprawled out to the east of Centreville.

In front of this column was not the three brigades of the First Division, but an accumulated mish-mash of that command. Daniel Tyler, responsible for Blackburn Ford two days earlier, was late and it was holding up the entire army.